In reality, if we look at some of the biggest and most successful names currently in business, names such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Mark Zuckerberg, just to mention a few, they have one thing in common. These successful people are in fact all introverts. This is against the common view that successful entrepreneurs should be extroverts.
So is there something to learn from this?
Although most people fall in between being an introvert and an extrovert, there are those who fall into the extreme poles as well. All the same, those that lack the ability to naturally interact in social events or rather spend their time alone are the introverts, and they make up around one-third of the population.
On this note, it is worth pointing out that many industrial psychologists say that women take the lead with soft skills and communication, but for now let’s focus on the broader picture:
It is not to say that entrepreneurship is easy for introverts. There is a discomfort in what is seen as normal entrepreneurial endeavours like speaking engagements, leadership as well as networking – in fact, it might all seem like personal weaknesses.
This can even be more important to those who are just branching out with new startups or expanding their own company into a higher level. However, the preconceived weaknesses, mostly defined by extroverts themselves, can if nurtured correctly, by making slight changes, develop into strengths.
There are also strengths associated with introverts that can make them an effective leader – through their ability to listen to others and their thoughtfulness. All the same, what is needed is confidence, and when you watch someone like Mark Zuckerberg speak, he seems confident. It is these types of skills that an extrovert should take note of.
Three tips an extrovert leader can learn from introverts:
Listen more actively
One tip that business leaders can learn from introverts is that of listening, or the art of listening. This is because introverts listen before speaking. More so, as a leader, this ability to listen is of utmost importance. Since, instead of just reacting to comments, an active listener can weigh up the different viewpoints before reacting.
Spend more time thinking
Being pensive can also be a good trait of a leader, and this is something an introvert has. So, in solitude, a leader will need some reflection time. In doing so, more thought could be given to the decisions that need to be taken.
Using the strengths of the team
Introverts are generally stronger at creative or strategic work, whereas extroverts excel in collaborative projects. Introverts know what their limits are, so you can learn that some groups will need different tasks, and within these tasks they can excel. On the other hand, to notice what the strengths are within a team will need good listening and observation skills, which introverts normally will have.
In addition, by not being the centre of attention, such as many extroverts like to be, you open the space up for others to come in and make suggestions. By doing so, you become a proactive leader and you can have better outcomes simply by letting the workers share their ideas. An example of this in practice is 3M where workers are allowed 15% of their time on pet projects.
To conclude: Extrovert leaders can learn from introverts and apply certain skills. This includes the ability to listen better, to take the time to reflect and think, to even re-think strategies instead of rushing ahead and just doing them, but also to take a step back to allow the employees to bring out their own skills and knowledge.
But that all said, just as extroverts can learn from introverts, the opposite is also true. Introverts can learn more about socializing, networking, and finding ways to actively express their own views towards the world in a more effective and confident manner.
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